Multi-compartment neuron–glia co-culture platform for localized CNS axon–glia interaction study Academic Article uri icon


  • Formation of myelin sheaths by oligodendrocytes (OLs) in the central nervous system (CNS) is essential for rapid nerve impulse conduction. Reciprocal signaling between axons and OLs orchestrates myelinogenesis but remains largely elusive. In this study, we present a multi-compartment CNS neuron-glia microfluidic co-culture platform. The platform is capable of conducting parallel localized drug and biomolecule treatments while carrying out multiple co-culture conditions in a single device for studying axon-glia interactions at a higher throughput. The "micro-macro hybrid soft-lithography master fabrication" (MMHSM) technique enables a large number of precisely replicated PDMS devices incorporating both millimeter and micrometer scale structures to be rapidly fabricated without any manual reservoir punching processes. Axons grown from the neuronal somata were physically and fluidically isolated inside the six satellite axon/glia compartments for localized treatments. Astrocytes, when seeded and co-cultured after the establishment of the isolated axons in the satellite axon/glia compartments, were found to physically damage the established axonal layer, as they tend to grow underneath the axons. In contrast, oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) could be co-cultured successfully with the isolated axons and differentiated into mature myelin basic protein-expressing OLs with processes aligning to neighboring axons. OPCs inside the six axon/glia compartments were treated with a high concentration of ceramide (150 μM) to confirm the fluidic isolation among the satellite compartments. In addition, isolated axons were treated with varying concentrations of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan (CSPG, 0-25 μg ml(-1)) within a single device to demonstrate the parallel localized biomolecular treatment capability of the device. These results indicate that the proposed platform can be used as a powerful tool to study CNS axonal biology and axon-glia interactions with the capacity for localized biomolecular treatments.

author list (cited authors)

  • Park, J., Koito, H., Li, J., & Han, A.

citation count

  • 63

publication date

  • July 2012